MODESTO — From the emails, voice mails and old-fashioned phone calls:
CHRISTMAS LEFTOVERS If you visited downtown Modesto this past holiday season, other than the McHenry Mansion or except during the Christmas Parade itself, there wasnt much evidence of Christmas.
Minimal, if any, decorations hailed the season: the boughs and wreaths that once adorned streetlight posts and downtown buildings. The Downtown Improvement District used to decorate, but funding dried up in recent years.
Now, the Modesto Convention & Visitors Bureau wants to bring back the Christmas spirit in 2014 and is embarking on a volunteer campaign to decorate downtown, executive Jennifer Mullen said.
Were in the beginning stages, but it would be great to bring back the seasonal spirit, she said. Maybe the retro garlands and wreaths. Wed use LED lights because they cost less to run.
Heres one: Why not tap into the network created by the Love Modesto folks, who assemble every April to clean up and beautify the city?
And I have an idea on how to finance the effort: Fine any store that begins playing Christmas carols before, say, Thanksgiving, and use the funds to pay for the cost of decorating.
Seriously, they started blaring the carols in some stores right around Halloween last fall so early that by the time the real holiday season arrived, many folks had already, well, tuned them out.
LOVE MODESTO Speaking of which, this years event is scheduled for April 5, and organizers are open to suggestions as they assemble and prioritize their list of potential projects for the day.
We're looking for more encouragement, people in need, schools, neighborhoods and manual labor projects, according to organizers. Visit LoveModesto.com for more information.
DAM LOW WATER LEVELS Lets hope that with the major foothills reservoirs at or below 50 percent of their capacities and dropping, and with a snowpack that is a no-pack, the irrigation districts dont need to rename Lake Don Pedro Puddle Don Pedro and New Melones No Melones.
DOWN TO SIX Several weeks ago, I wrote about Janna Hoehne of Hawaii. She took on the enormous task of trying to ensure that all Californians killed in Vietnam are accounted for with photographs to accompany their information on the online Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall site, and the education center expected to break ground next year in Washington, D.C.
She began needing 32 photos of fallen from Stanislaus County, and is now down to only six. She still needs photos of Modestans James R. Lewis, Neal A. Rasmussen, Daniel Ryan and Donald C. Vaughn; Gunther H. Rehling of Oakdale; and Antonio Silva of Westley. If you know family members of any of these men and have access to photos of them, please email them to Hoehne at email@example.com or contact me using the information at the bottom of this column.
FOUND A week ago, I wrote about a hit-and-run crash in Turlock that claimed the life of 46-year-old Elizabeth Mancha and injured her 53-year-old male companion, according to the Turlock police. During the chaos of the moment, the couples dog, a Lab/collie/shepherd mix named Dolly, took off. The owners son contacted The Bee with a plea for people to find Dolly. The animal has been located and reunited with her owner, bringing at least one bit of good to an otherwise tragic event.
IN MEMORIAM Saddened by the recent passing of Tom Truax after a lengthy battle with cancer. I met Tom when he was running the Society for Handicapped Children and Adults. Following a column I wrote about a quadriplegic from Oakdale whose van had been stolen, Tom arranged for the organization to provide a replacement. Truax took over the DMC Foundation, but then his health problems arose.